Gardeners ready to diagnose problems at Garden Fest

Big tomatoes, little tomatoes. Heirlooms and new varieties.

The tomato may be the most popular vegetable in home gardens across the United States, but local home gardeners also want to know more about growing watermelon, peppers and fruit crops. They’ll get the chance to taste and learn more about popular Louisiana garden produce at the Garden Fest at Burden on Saturday.

Visitors will get a chance to try new Louisiana food products, omelets and cocktails, too. Plus, they can participate in the outstanding tomato contest and have plant problems diagnosed.

The annual event at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden on Essen Lane off Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Louisiana Egg Commission will prepare and serve omelets from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. while food companies in the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator will offer samples of their new foods and beverages beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Some of the incubator’s tenants also will be selling their products. Participating companies are Pourciau’s Praline Sauces, Elke Ellzey Enterprises, Militello Gourmet Specialities, Louisiana Sisters, RE: Salad Dressings, Cupcake Fairies and Hanley’s Foods.

Visitors will be able to sample bloody marys from Mason’s Grill from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. There will also be a Garden Fest Cocktail Contest from 11 a.m. to noon when visitors can sample concoctions made from Louisiana spirits.

From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., the Louisiana Culinary Institute and the East Baton Rouge Parish extension office will offer samples of dishes prepared from vegetables produced at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden. Visitors will be able to pick up recipes and nutrition information for each dish.

Those attending the event will be offered hayrides to the Botanic Gardens research area to taste tomatoes, watermelons, peppers and fruit crops and learn about the latest research conducted by the LSU AgCenter, Burden resident director Jeff Kuehny said.

And, the LSU AgCenter Dairy Store will have ice cream available for purchase.

Admission to the event is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 4-10 and free for children 3 and younger. More information is available at or by calling (225) 763-3990.